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Vinnie Moore: "I unfortunately get caught up in this “likes” and “views” thing too as that is the game now. But I like the old game better where you make a record and hope it sells and leads to a tour.”

Interview with Vinnie Moore from Vinnie Moore
by Fred Bonanno at 27 January 2023, 8:07 AM

With the release of his tenth studio album “Double Exposure” and being a member of two of the most influential bands in rock history, UFO and Alice Cooper, Vinnie Moore once again proves why his name is always included in the discussion of “great rock guitarists”. METAL TEMPLE writer Fred Bonanno had the opportunity to ask Vinnie a few questions about the new album and his impressive career. Check out Fred’s review of “Double Exposure” under “latest reviews” from January 23.

Vinnie, thank you so very much for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer a few question for our readers at METAL TEMPLE, so very glad you’re back with a new album out and ready to rock, how have you been?

Thanks so much man. I appreciate the opportunity. I have been well thanks.

Vinnie, you’ve just released your tenth solo album “Double Exposure” on November 25th with an interesting twist, there are 12 songs and while the first half contains vocals and the second half are the same songs with different titles, only instrumentals, where did this unique approach develop?

It was not part of my original plan and was something that popped into my head during the process. I had planned to do a 6-song instrumental EP but as I was listening to my demos I started hearing vocals in my head and singing along, initially to the song One Day. I realized that it could be a good vocal song and began thinking about who I could ask to sing on it. As I continued to listen through the other songs, it was clear that they all could be vocal songs. So the idea of doing two versions of each song was something that I stumbled upon accidentally. Honestly, I have always thought that some of my earlier records could be redone with vocals, especially Meltdown. That was just a straightforward rock album with guitar melodies taking the lead as opposed to vocals.

The album really rocks, I love it, there seems to be a little bit of prog, rock, blues and even some funk, can you tell me about the creative process of putting this all together?

Thanks so much. All of those musical elements have inspired me and are part of my makeup. I like many styles of music and when I write or play, it all eventually comes out in one way or another. I tend to be a bit scattered in general so different styles often end up mixed within one song. I wrote and demoed out the songs as usual and at some point sent everything out to the drummer Richie Monica so he could work on ideas and rehearse for recording. He tracked while playing along to the demos. From there I added a massive amount of guitars (laughs), and some temporary bass. At some point I sent the tracks to the bassists and singers. The singers got instrumental versions and also versions with me singing. I told them to be creative and do whatever they felt whether that meant using some of my vocal ideas or totally doing their own thing. When I got tracks back there were a few instances where I knew the songs were finished and didn’t need more, and a few times where I hit them back with some suggestions to try and then they would experiment and make some minor changes. So basically we collaborated as is standard operating procedure.

You’ve chosen four vocalists for this album, Mike DiMeo (RIOT), Keith Slack (MSG), Brian Stephenson (OLD JAMES) and Ed Terry (RAGE AND BEYOND), how and why these guys?

I knew them all and had kept them in mind as people I would like to work with. If it was a full vocal record, I honestly would have preferred to have just one singer. But since it was a mixture of things to begin with, I felt that it would be cool to be creative with more than one person. I have known Keith since 1999 when I was on tour with MSG and he was their singer. We have been friends since then and have always talked about working together. It took a hell of a long time, but we finally got ‘er done. Mike played keyboards in my band on a tour of Europe 6 or 7 years back and because he sings we were able to mix some vocal songs in during the shows. We talked of recording stuff together as well. Brian’s band Old James opened up on the Xtreme Guitar Tour that I did with Uli Roth and Black Nights Rising back in 2016 I think it was. I really liked his vocals, and we got on well and have kept in touch since then. So he came to mind when putting this album together. I played on a couple tracks for my friend Randy Pratt who has a band called Ruffyunz and Ed was the singer. I loved his performance and ideas and kept him in mind as someone I would like to work with as well. Ironically we have never met in person.

I read that you said “it created a little bit of a stir” when asked about you recording with a Gibson SG, can you explain that?

I have mostly played super strat style guitars and I guess fans associate me with pretty much only that. I play different guitars in the studio but onstage I have stuck with the super most of the time as they are the most comfortable to me. People associate Jimmy Page to a Les Paul, Blackmore to a Strat, Frank Marino to an SG…etc. I guess I’m the super strat guy. (laughs). When people saw the album cover with me playing the SG, they seemed to think that something wasn’t right in the universe, and some read into it a little too deeply. The real story is that I used the SG on the record and really like it and the way it looks. So I took it along to the photo session with my custom Pacer. It turned out that the photo I liked best happened to be one with me playing the SG. So I chose that photo for the cover, but it was really no big thing. I even had people asking if the album was going to be Frank Marino style.

Any songs on “Double Exposure” have a special meaning, feels like “Paid my Dues” might?

Most of the lyrics in Paid My Dues were written by Keith Slack but I did write the chorus lyrics. I didn’t have anything specific in mind, just sort of a general thing that everyone has probably felt at one time or another. Keith took the theme and added the lyrics for the verses. I have never asked if it has a specific meaning for him.

I like to dabble in songwriting, can you tell me a little about your songwriting inspirations?

The key for me has always been to have a guitar in my hand. It usually starts from there. Most of the time, I stumble upon something while playing that I like, and think is good enough to start a song. Once I get that first spark, I will start to come up with other parts that go with it. There are also times where I start by jamming along with a drum groove in my studio and sometimes something cool comes out. Usually though I come up with my best ideas when I am not aware that I am writing, and I am not trying too hard. Once I get that first bit of inspiration, the gates open and new bits will come to me as I play and also I will hear things in my head when I’m lying in bed at night, driving, or whatever. Then I’ll have to get to a guitar as soon as I can so I can figure out how to play what I am hearing and record it. I have sung things into my phone while driving so I don’t forget. It just starts to grow, and you put it all together in an arrangement and record it.

Your first “professional” work was a national Pepsi TV ad, followed by your debut release of “Mind’s Eye”, looking back on that now, was it scary, or nerve racking wondering how the music community would accept you?

I wouldn’t say it was scary, but I was certainly hoping that people would like my playing and music. There seemed to be a buzz about the Pepsi commercial and this gave me confidence as I continued down the path. But yes there was a lot of thought about how I might be received by listeners.

On that note, how did that shape you musically and/or personally?

It motivated me to strive as hard as I could to become a better player and songwriter. Everyone hopes that people will like what they do, especially in the beginning when you are trying to establish a career. You just do the best you can and then hope for the best.

Your first metal band was VICIOUS RUMORS, and released the album “Soldiers of the Night” in 1985, I still have that album in my collection, and I remember listening to your guitar solo “Invader” and being blown away, tell us about laying that song down?

I had come up with all the parts in advance and recorded it at home. I did all the guitar solos on the VR album in about six hours one evening. There wasn’t much time and I had to go in and knock it out quickly. I have always been disappointed with that solo because it wasn’t the best I could do. The demo I had recorded at home was definitely better. I did the best I could on that night given the circumstances, but I have always wished I would have had a little more time so that I could have recorded my best. I am never comfortable with the too little time thing. It makes me feel rushed and nervous. That’s why it’s such a gift that we can all have our own studios these days. It’s a much better to be in a relaxed, no pressure headspace.

You’ve been part of two legendary bands in rock history, ALICE COOPER and UFO, I am a huge fan of both and have been privileged to see you play with both bands, and met you while with UFO, so let’s break it down, touring and recording with ALICE (Hey Stoopid), describe those experiences.

I was in the process of recording the Meltdown album and I got a call about playing on Hey Stoopid. They were having guest guitarists like Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, and Slash play on the record. I was an Alice fan and so it was an honor to be asked to do it. They sent me two songs and I was able to learn them and come up with ideas at home. I drove up to Bearsville Studios in upstate NY one evening and went in to the studio to record first thing in the morning. This is where I first met Alice. I think we spent about 6 hours doing the rhythm and solo guitars. We went out to dinner after, and then I drove home. A fairly quick thing. A few weeks later I was back in the studio mixing my album, and I got a call from my manager saying that there was interest in me joining Alice’s band for the tour. I was hesitant at first because I was so excited about my record and so far down the road with it. But I eventually realized that it was a very cool thing and knew I should do it. A couple months later I went out to Los Angeles to start rehearsals for the tour. We played mostly outdoor venues but some arenas as well. It was an awesome experience and so cool to be on bigger stages in front of bigger audiences. I definitely learned a lot from it. I got to play the Spectrum in Philadelphia on that tour which was my dream venue as I went to many concerts there as a kid. So one dream checked off the list.

UFO, you’ve been part of the band since 2003, touring and recording, there was an amazing chemistry between you, Phil and the rest of band, so sorry to hear of Phil’s medical issues, how is he doing and are there any tours planned?

He’s doing well. We keep in contact almost every day. He’s been keeping busy with making pizza in his clay pizza oven. There aren’t any definitive tour plans at the moment, but I think it is very possible that we may do more shows. Fingers crossed. He’s currently in training and jogging 17 miles a day. Once he gets up to 25 we’ll be all ready to go. Ha Ha

Aside from UFO and ALICE, is there a band, past or present, that you would love to be part of?

There are a lot of bands from over the years that make me feel like “I would like to be in a band like that”, but I can’t think of a specific band that I dream of playing in. Me being in the equation would have changed those bands and most likely for the worst.

There are some amazing and talented female shredders out there now, Nita Strauss, Lzzy Hale, Sophie Lloyd and Orianthi, to name just a few, do you have a favorite woman guitarist?

I think Lari Basilio is a great player and plays very tastefully. I like her playing.

What’s your preference, writing and recording a “kick-ass” album to rave reviews or performing live on stage?

I need both. (laughs). They are both something I love doing and fulfill different parts of the ego. I’m very lucky that I have gotten to do both over the years. It is a perfect cycle for me.

How has the musical landscape changed from when you first started out to today?

In so many ways that it would be impossible to answer. Probably the biggest thing is that the internet is here now. That has changed things in so many ways. Streaming and digital files have totally changed the way record companies and artists operate. Social media has created a whole new breed of musicians and a large portion of them seem to only play alone with the goal of acquiring likes and views. I unfortunately get caught up in this likes and views thing too as that is the game now. But I like the old game better where you make a record and hope it sells and leads to a tour. I really hope that the younger generation continues to get into the basement or garage with some friends where they play together. Making music with other musicians is to me what it’s all about.
Are you still doing guitar clinics?, I’m sure that’s a fun and rewarding experience.

I haven’t been doing clinics for years now other than a few things here and there. I have done many of them in so many countries and enjoyed it at one point. I much prefer to being onstage with a band though to be honest. But yes it was fun and rewarding and I think it prepared me for many things as far as being onstage and touring.

If you had to put together a top ten list of your favorite guitarists, give me a few names that would be on that list, in no particular order.

Ritchie Blackmore, Jeff Beck, Eddie Van Halen, Carlos Santana, Robin Trower, Larry Carlton, Al DiMeola, Jimi Hendrix, Allan Holdsworth, Frank Marino…..and many many more.

Last question, and it’s a silly one, sorry Vinnie, but if you weren’t involved in music, what could you see yourself doing?

Well, it’s definitely too late to be a gigolo but that could have been a promising career. Hahahahaha. I could see myself working with wood. I enjoy designing and building things. I have done many little projects over the years including building my studio and some of the things in it like the desk I work at, and a cabinet for my amp heads. Plus, it’s sometimes awesome to be able to cut and smash things.

Thank you again Vinnie for taking time to answer my questions about the new album and your remarkable career, I’ve been a big fan of yours since the first time I heard you play and hope to see you on stage again very soon.

Thanks very much for the interview and the kind words.


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Edited 25 March 2023

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